I think I’ve heard just about every French baby name under the sun by now. While I was pregnant, it took us the full 9 months to reach a decision on a name. The only thing we could agree on was that it had to work equally well in French and English, be easy to pronounce for both families, and fit in well in both countries. This was no small feat. Between the limited list of names, the number of names ruined for us by people we knew, and our differing taste in names, I’m frankly surprised that my daughter was not just called “Baby.” (Although, then I’m sure we would have argued over Baby versus Bébé.)
To come up with this list, I pulled the top 100 baby names in France and eliminated those that didn’t translate well. I kept names that are not of French origin but are popular in France, like Mila. I added in a few uncommon French names that I believe have major comeback potential, like Madeleine, Claire, Henri, and Marcel (see notes below on the name Marcel). Then, I picked my 20 favorites for each gender, plus a few honorable mentions.
Below are my top 40 French baby names that are just as cute in English!
- Camille (pronounced Cami with emphasis on the last syllable)
- Éléanor (also spelled Éléanore)
- Eva (pronounced like the English name Ava in French)
Honorable mentions: Alice, Éloïse, Olivia, Margot/Margaux, Lola
Honorable mentions: Ethan, Olivier, Théo (a diminutive of the name Théophile)
*I feel like Marcel requires a disclaimer because it got terrible reactions from nearly every French person I know. Just so you’re aware, it’s not a popular choice in France. It doesn’t help that marcel is the French word for a wife-beater (shirt), but they also said it made them think of a sweaty, old guy with greasy hair and a southern accent smoking a cigarette. That said, I have one very trendy American friend who also married a Frenchman, and they named their son Marcel, confirming my theory that the name is bound to make a comeback. It’s an amazing name!
Voilà! These French baby names are unique, but still fit right in without without being difficult to pronounce. Just FYI, you won’t be able to have accents on official U.S. documents like your baby’s social security card or birth certificate, but you still can choose to use them whenever you want.
Share your favorite French baby names in the comments!